Headlines: December 6th, 2002

The Literacy and numeracy strategies introduced in 1998 are continuing to deliver results, but the gap between the high and low performers is widening. The latest performance tables show that since 1998, about 84,000 more eleven year olds are achieving the expected level for their age in maths and around 60,000 more are doing so in English. This represents a 10 percentage point improvement in English tests and a 14 percentage point improvement in maths. Raising the performance of the weaker schools closer to the best performers would ensure that all pupils benefited regardless of the school they attended.The current performance data is a crude measure which can mask under performers and it is planned to introduce value added tables next year. The new tables will be more comprehensive and make comparisons to similar schools and so draw attention to those that are under performing. This will allow Local Education Authorities to target action on those schools. The proposed value added scheme has been piloted in 495 schools and there will be a consultation before the final version goes live.

Leadership is a key factor in the success of a school and there are too many schools where weak leadership is hampering progress. To address this problem a major leadership programme will be launched next year and it is hoped to involve some 5000 primary schools.